Celtic’s “Rebel” Fans Should Focus On Supporting The Team – A Guest Blog By James Dornan MSP.

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A few days ago, I was asked to write something for the blog and I want to say thank you for allowing me to expand on a thread I put on Twitter regarding the behaviour of a group of Celtic fans commonly known as the Green Brigade but now apparently calling themselves the North Curve.

Let me give you some background, I’m a Celtic supporter over 60 years standing, ever since my dad took me to Celtic Park when I was a kid of six or seven.

I love watching Celtic just now; they are exciting, progressive, innovative, with a manager who has initiative and a desire to play what many of us would call ‘the Celtic Way’, something that’s been lacking for a few years.

However, recently when I watch Celtic, particularly in away games, I am embarrassed by the songs and chants that comes from one section of the ground.

Celtic are a Scottish team with a proud Irish background, something we should be happy to celebrate. I have even started and convened a cross party group on Ireland within the Scottish Parliament which I hope will help in that celebration of Irish culture in Scotland.

However, we are not the sporting division of Ireland’s struggle for reunification, which I believe in.

But it is for the Irish people to decide, not a group of football fans, and it will be a political not sporting decision.

I understand that some Celtic fans will disagree with my position, but interestingly, I hold this position, not because I don’t think there’s a place at Parkhead to celebrate our Irish culture; I do.

It’s because I see the way our Irish culture is abused for, what I consider to be, inappropriate reasons.

If you really support Ireland then sing songs of it at a time of special celebration, Saint Patrick’s Day, or the anniversary of Irish independence or any other major event in Ireland’s cultural or political calendar.

This would be completely understandable and something I would welcome.

However, this continual singing of IRA songs, in particular, appears to me to be not a celebration of Ireland’s wide and varied, interesting and beautiful, history and culture but simply an opportunity for a certain group of fans to highlight their importance in being the standard bearers of this imaginary eternal flame of Ireland that apparently burns, or should burn, in the heart of every real Celtic fan.

The other reason of course is football rivalry. We know these songs anger and irritate our opponents, who have, in my view, their own and in many cases much worse, songs in their own repertoire.

I always thought the whole purpose of going to the match was to hopefully see good football and to get behind your team.

How does singing about a conflict that many of our players will know nothing about help do that?

Take last nights’ game, Thursday 9th December, for example; this same group of fans decided that because they disapproved of a decision of the board, of which they’re fully entitled to do of course – and I can hardly remember the last time I agreed with that Board about anything – that they would attend but sit in silence during the course of the game.

This game was played by what could only be called Celtic’s B team, full of young boys and players who have hardly played for the team.

What the support got was a fabulous performance and result with a number of players staking a claim for a first team squad place.

What the players would have liked in return is the wholehearted backing of the support in attendance.

What they got from those arbiters of the ‘real’ Celtic fan was silence, except for near the end of the match when they decided to loudly chant against an ex-Police Officer.

Seriously, whatever your view on the Higgins appointment it wasn’t those young lads out there making their debuts who set it in motion.

For me football is about loyalty and entertainment, it’s about that club loyalty that probably came from your dad, and it is about the heritage of a club as old and distinguished as Celtic.

But, like it or not folks, Celtic are a Scottish club, they were created in Scotland, they play in Scotland and most of the fans including those that go to Parkhead, even those in the North Curve, were born in Scotland.

By all means celebrate where our ancestors came from. Celebrate and enjoy the Irishness within the club’s tradition but let’s not pretend that we’re something we’re not.

We’re simply a Scottish club with an Irish background.

One last thing, Celtic Park is a football ground, it’s not a church, it’s not a holy place, even if we do call it Paradise, so I don’t see what place songs about religion have in that ground or any other football ground to be honest.

The Pope is not a Celtic supporter and he is highly unlikely to hear chants in favour of him on such days. The players are Celtic supporters though, and they will hear if you sing songs about them.

So let’s get back to singing songs in support of the club. Let’s leave political allegiances and conversations for elsewhere. Let’s leave our religious beliefs to whichever place of worship, if any, we go to on a Sunday, Saturday whenever.

Let’s use the 90 minutes to support our club.

This is an exciting time for Celtic.

I look forward to getting back to trophy winning ways, hopefully over the next few weeks, but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that during this journey we do not allow ourselves to become that which we rightly criticise strongly in others.

Let’s get back to concentrating on Celtic, starting on Sunday, and that we continue to be the football club that has won the hearts of football supporters all over the world.

Hail Hail!

James Dornan is the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. 

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  • John Cavendish says:

    Can’t disagree with some of the points made by JD. However, what happened to the other 90% of our support who had the opportunity to back the team with gusto and real Celtic songs throughout the match last night? and by the way, if you were there, you would know that the “hate Bernard Higgins” song didn’t eminate from the Green Brigade.

  • Damian says:

    This is quite a confused piece in a lot of ways. For one thing, I’m quite unaware of Celtic fans singing songs about specifically Catholic matters. Do they? They might. Haven’t heard any. It’s certainly not the kind of thing the Green Brigade / North Curve types tend to sing about (I’ve never picked up on any religiosity from them and have always assumed an atheistic quality, in line with the kinds of left wing ideology they identify with). You agree (I think?) with this group’s disagreement with the board, but think that they should have been singing last night? And you don’t much like the songs that they sing when they do sing?

    Is the purpose of this piece so that its existence can be referred to later? Like, ‘look, I told Celtic fans off for their Irish stuff?’

  • Caroline Lyall says:

    Well said. Wholeheartedly agree with everything.

  • Seosaimh says:

    Just keep taking the soup, HOWEVER, Mr Dornan

  • Neil says:

    Well done James Dornan, I agree 100% with his comments and thoughts.
    Well done also to James for inviting this guest blog.
    I am a 54 year old Celtic supporter who regularly attends mass on a Sunday and actively participate in the ceremonies and sacraments of my faith.
    I follow my team with vigour and enthusiasm but believe there is a line that should not be crossed – it is football we watch to enjoy, talk about, celebrate and look forward too.
    References to other religions, ancient wars and conflicts should be left to the out of Celtic Park and other football grounds in my opinion. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about these issues but take time to educate myself on those that interest me.
    Support your team, don’t sing offensive songs, don’t throw bottles or pies or coins at opposition players or flares – this only brings shame and unwanted attention from the Scottish media and our rival fans for all the wrong reasons as does an element attacking a pub in Glasgow – the moral high ground quickly evaporates when this happens.
    Most Celtic don’t want to see or hear these things and don’t want it associated with our great club.
    The Green Brigade/North Curve do so many marvellous things let’s concentrate on those and do your club and yourselves proud.
    We have a team and manager that will make us winners again so let’s get behind them in song and action – Mon the hoops ???

  • Jim Duffy says:

    And what do you think of our support for the Palestinians you obviously or deliberately forgot to mention that,you leave the green brigade alone they aren’t always perfect but at least they have principles ,and they are the only ones to take our Tory money grabbing board to task,the green brigade have scruples which is more than I can say for you going by your post ,you come across as some well to do Tory chap.

    • Neil says:

      Jim Duffy – ignorance is bliss – ‘well to do Tory chap’ – how wrong you are!
      Keep politics out of football

      • Jim Duffy says:

        Neil all I can say to you mate is Stay at the back of the bus and don’t dare question the Scottish authority ,ie orange masonic bigots ,if politics are separated from football why was there a need for a club like Celtic to be formed?they were formed because of Scottish POLITICS ie Irish and catholics MST be kept down,read a statement from some jock protestant minister in 1920 or30s foretelling the danger to jockland from Irish immigrants,and you say there is no link between football and politics ,think again man.

        • Neil says:

          There are no words – this is 2021 time to move on – be the bigger person/fan base/non bigot and educate the future generations – I will always question authority and never be at the back of the bus – try to get your head out the sand(past) and move forward

        • Sharon McCreery says:

          A great article. I agree with everything you said. Xx

  • Droopy McCool says:

    I totally and utterly agree with this view. So do the people I sit with at CP. I sit in front of the other half- arsed IRA numpties in the other corner of the North stand. The Papa Francesco song is nothing short of embarrassing. We could easily sit back and let the huns constantly embarrass themselves but a vocal minority are just too stupid for words.

  • Sharon McCreery says:

    A great article. I agree with everything you said. Xx

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